In partnership with Jewish National Fund-USA and Onward Israel, OU-JLIC brought 189 students to Israel for seven weeks to live, learn, and work in the holy city of Jerusalem. Students interned during the day and took part in one of three different Torah learning experiences: Summer in Jerusalem, Summer in Jerusalem for Women, and Ascend. The program’s overall goal was to show students that professional life and Torah values go hand in hand. Students were also able to experience working in Israel, so they could explore the possibility of making Aliyah.
The first program with Midreshet Torah V’Avodah was co-ed and offered to students who had spent a gap year in Israel. The rigor of the Torah learning included a nightly Gemara shiur by OU-JLIC’s very own founding director, Rav Menachem Schrader.
The 62 participants were led by Dorit and Rabbi Ariel Cohen, the current OU-JLIC directors at Brandeis University.
In partnership with Midreshet Moriah, this program attracted women from all over the world. Though it was the first year, the program, created and managed by Rikki and Rabbi Josh Lehman, current OU-JLIC directors at the University of Maryland, was flawless.
Lastly, the Ascend program, in partnership with Midreshet Harova, had a population of 80 students, half of whom spent a gap year in Israel. This diversity created an environment of growth, inspiration, and friendship. Emily and Jeremy Tibbetts, directors of OU-JLIC Jerusalem, managed the program.
20,000 students enrolled at Bar-Ilan, located near Tel Aviv in Ramat Gan, including approximately 1,500 anglophones, attend the university’s international undergraduate and graduate programs. About 450 international students participate in Bar- Ilan’s OU-JLIC activities. These students will now have greater resources in English that also bridge the cultural divide.
The new Mordecai D. Katz z’l OU-JLIC program at Tel Aviv University will include an on-site rabbinic couple, Rabbi Eitan and Elana Phillips, who previously served as youth directors at Kehillat Shivtei Yisrael in nearby Ra’anana.
The gift creates a “home away from home” for the university’s Modern Orthodox and traditional students through Torah study, religious services, halachic and spiritual guidance, Shabbat dinners, and other social events. The program will serve the 2,500 students enrolled at Tel Aviv University, including more than 250 medical students.
My alarm goes off at 5:50 a.m. on a Monday morning. I jump out of bed, prepare a coffee, and head to my office for my 6:15 chavrusa with Ariel, a young man for whom I had the zechut to be mesader kiddushin. Both Ariel and his wife are former OU-JLIC presidents and remain involved with us through our young professional programming. I arrive back home in time to wake up my teenage son for yeshiva, learn the first half of Daf Yomi, help with getting the other kids out to school while simultaneously sending a birthday message to a third-year student and a happy anniversary to a couple I was mesader kiddushin for a few years ago.
I also return the call to a young lady that had a sheilah. I am on campus today and will be giving a chabura for some Torah, schmoozing, and of course, lunch. I schmooze with a student but soon need to pivot the topic since those who arrived have more of a public-school background.
Before heading back to the Hillel House for mincha, I counsel a student who is amidst a challenging relationship with her parents while Miriam talks to another student about her date last night. After this is done, I make a call to a donor to have them fulfill their pledge and speak to them about our new SOUL fellowship, which we are expanding to help further build our Yavneh leadership cohort.
I head out to a later maariv and afterwards learn with a few students before meeting a chattan. I head home, respond to more messages, and fall asleep at my desk finishing the second half of the Daf, then crawl upstairs and grab a couple of hours of sleep before Miriam and I start all over again...BH!